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Mix And Match
At the heart of DAN IN REAL LIFE is Dan himself—respected advice columnist, philosophical single father and supposedly reasonable family man who suddenly finds himself made foolish, tongue-twisted, awkward, sneaky, guilty and, to his dismay, utterly renewed by an accidental crash into love.

Dan is truly running in place when the film begins. His efforts to look "cool” to his kids constantly backfire and his focus on plans and rules has taken all the joyous surprises out of his life. But then he meets Marie—and suddenly, he's on the shakiest, least predictable ground of his life, leading to one hilarious situation and run-in after another.

To take Dan through this gamut of emotions while keeping a hold on the comically frazzled and hapless soul of the character, the filmmakers searched for the rare actor capable of juggling extremes with wit and aplomb while also having the appeal of a deeply likable Everyman.

Peter Hedges was struck by how believable Carell, a father to two young children himself, was as a father filled with love and worry for the three spirited daughters he's trying to raise. "I wanted somebody who would feel real as Dan, who would be both funny and heartbreaking,” he comments. "And Steve is obviously quite funny, but he also is a very soulful man. Fortunately, he was brave enough to try something quite different from what people are accustomed to him doing and to show a side we haven't seen before.”

As the besieged and lonely father of three rapidly maturing daughters, Dan is already being pushed to his edges, despite trying to be the moral authority, when he finds himself inadvertently falling in love with his brother's new girlfriend. Suddenly, he's juggling being an upstanding role model with tumbling head over heels for a forbidden woman—forced to hide his true feelings. As an advice columnist, Dan has always had the answers for everyone else— but now, when it comes to his own real life, he's completely flummoxed—and has to finally let go.

Carell notes: "What I liked about the script is that it resonated strongly that this was a real guy. In fact, all of the characters in the movie seemed like they could actually be living, breathing people. It's true to life, and I hope it moves people while constantly making them laugh.”

Ultimately, what really made the experience of DAN IN REAL LIFE special for Carell was the ensemble cast surrounding his character—and keeping Dan constantly on his toes. "The group of people that came together for this story is simply exceptional—you have Oscar® winners and Tony® winners, and together they make a really unique ensemble,” he says. "That made it a lot of fun.”

When it came to the character of Marie, the object of Dan and his brother's dueling affections, Peter Hedges dared to envision one of today's most luminous and talented actresses, Juliette Binoche, making a comic turn. At first the idea of recruiting the Academy Award®-winning French actress, who dazzled audiences in "The English Patient” and "Chocolat,” to play the love interest in an American romantic comedy seemed like a faraway dream…but then it came true.

Adds Jon Shestack: "Juliette has one of the most expressive faces in the movies, and she threw herself totally into this role. Marie reflects many of Juliette's qualities—delightful, charming, open and interested in everything around her.”

The idea of Binoche was initially inspired by Steve Carell, who suggested to Peter Hedges: "Find an actress with a really good heart.” Hedges kept that in mind as he was casting. "I saw a lot of wonderful actresses for the role, but I was looking for that pairing that would align with Steve in an original way, and Juliette was it,” he says. "We had the two of them sing karaoke together, and it was evident within 15 seconds that they were a p

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